The Duties of Employees
We have so far argued that the Bible teaches Christians to see their work as a service rendered directly to God, to see it as holy. Further they are to understand their work as an instrument through which God’s blessing comes to them. Last time we considered the double perspective on work that we find in the Bible, one deriving from creation and the other from the fall. Work is, at one and the same time, fulfilling and satisfying and a sphere of God’s blessing and wearying, frustrating, and a sphere of God’s curse. Our view of work must embrace both perspectives at the same time and be, consequently, both realistic and affirming.
Tonight I want to begin more specifically the consideration of the Bible’s ethics of work, its specific teaching regarding the moral obligations we are to meet as workers who do their work, in Milton’s phrase, “before our great taskmaster’s eye.” Tonight we begin with the Bible’s general account of the obligations of the worker. We will consider the obligations of the employer next time. Tonight we begin with the worker, the man or woman who has, in one respect or another, a boss and who is responsible and answerable to that boss. We will be thinking primarily – because the Bible addresses primarily – the situation of the man or woman who has specific responsibilities to fulfill, a specific function to serve in an office or a company, or, for clients. Necessary changes being made, of course, the principles can be applied without too much difficulty to the working life of anyone: the homemaker, for example, or the self-employed artisan or service provider.
And, without question, the Bible does provide us with a general statement of the obligations of the Christian worker, someone’s employee, and does so twice, in the twin epistles of Ephesians and Colossians. The passages are not precisely the same but obviously are parallel to one another, the form of words in one text elaborating the form of words in the other.Ephesians 6, 4
Topics: Theology of Work, Work and Ethics
Church: First Presbyterian Church, Tacoma